Obama didn’t make a “gutsy call” but he didn’t cover his rear either
I am on record saying that Joe Biden is full of crap when he tried to sell Obama’s decision to okay the raid that killed bin Laden as “gutsy”. Biden’s claim is that had the raid failed, his presidency would have been over.
Nonsense. We’d have simply never heard about it. There was no risk to Obama or his presidency to okay the raid and tremendous upside (which he continues to try to cash in on) if it succeeded. Most reasonable people know and understand that. It is the usual Biden hubris.
But, this new claim which has been floated by Big Peace is also nonsense. The claim is a memo that authorized the raid also was used to cover the President’s rear if it failed. Here’s the memo that is being touted as proof:
Received phone call from Tom Donilon who stated that the President made a decision with regard to AC1 [Abbottabad Compound 1]. The decision is to proceed with the assault.
The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out. Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am.
The decision to shift operational command to McRaven is being characterized as a CYA move by the president who, if the raid failed, would or could throw McRaven under the bus.
What was done is exactly what should have been done by standard operating procedure for any operation – unless, of course, you want people who have no situational awareness, haven’t been in on the planning and are thousands of miles away, making minute-to-minute operational decisions. You know LBJ designating targets in North Vietnam or Jimmy Carter trying to run the Iranian operation.
Of course you give operational control to the operational commander for heaven sake. He’s the guy who has planned, rehearsed and is most familiar with the operation. He knows the operators, he knows the terrain, he has helped configure the force, he knows the best time to go in.
He is the guy best qualified to have operational control and the shift noted at 10:45 am means at that point it was up to the best qualified man to make the call “go”.
The sort of nonsense that Big Peace is running is, unfortunately, done out of apparent ignorance. This is not a story. It has nothing to do with CYA. It is how operations are done. When the command authority, who retains the right to make the decision of “go” or “no go”, makes the decision to proceed they then hand the operation off to the operational commander.
That’s what was done here. It was the correct thing to do.
As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am no fan of Obama’s. And I remember when he criticized another campaign for using bin Laden to “score political points”. But this sort of attack is just nonsense.